Why We Need Law Enforcement In An Era Of Increasing Scams During The Pandemic

Why We Need Law Enforcement In An Era Of Increasing Scams During The Pandemic
21 Jun 2021

Why We Need Law Enforcement In An Era Of Increasing Scams During The Pandemic

White-collar crimes such as fraud or scams typically take place in corporate or commercial settings, where perpetrators try to gain illegal economic or business advantages. The current COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably led to a rise in cases of white-collar crimes not only in Singapore but on a global scale.

Why are there more scams now?

Referencing the “Fraud Triangle” theory, it suggests three main factors that can cause someone to commit fraud - Opportunity, Rationalisation, and Pressure/Incentive. Unfortunately, the pandemic has led to an increase of all three due to economic slowdown, increased vulnerability, and isolation.

Working from home and spending more time online also leaves us susceptible to white-collar criminals. Vulnerable groups such as seniors living alone are at a higher risk of being targeted, as they can be easily manipulated by tactics such as scam calls.

Why should this matter to me?

As scams get more sophisticated, one small vulnerability is enough for a criminal to get away with confidential information. Yet, with increased law enforcement and greater awareness of popular scams, this can enable us to better protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming victims. Hence, it is important to be aware of common scams, and know your rights to restitution should you fall victim.

If you are being investigated for such offenses, know your rights to legal representation and how you can contact Harry Elias for legal advice.

The situation in Singapore

Singapore has seen an increase in fraud and cybersecurity crimes during the pandemic. In August 2020, the Singapore Police Force’s mid-year crime statistics reported an 11.6% increase in the total number of reported crimes primarily due to a rise in scam cases.

Some white-collar crimes that have taken place during the pandemic include accounting fraud, insolvency fraud, false claims, and misappropriation/theft of company assets. More recently in February 2021, an overseas company was defrauded of $10.2M and the money transferred to a Singaporean bank. A Singaporean man was subsequently arrested for alleged offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Common and emerging scams in Singapore

Some new scams that have emerged include government relief fraud, counterfeit PPE/medical equipment, phishing emails, and donation fraud scams. To stay well-informed on what to keep a lookout for, here are some common scams to be aware of:

1. Phishing scams 

In January 2021, the SPF warned of new phishing scams emerging. In such cases, scammers often claim to be from government agencies in order to obtain personal and financial information. This act can be charged under Section 416A of the Penal Code (Illegally obtained personal information).

Nowadays, scammers can send out increasingly convincing emails or calls. Do your due diligence when anyone asks for your personal information - check that the URL and email used are accurate, and never disclose personal information over the phone or computer.

2. Government relief fraud

Several cases of government relief fraud have also been reported, where individuals falsely reported income information to get higher government grants. While this is often a last resort by those who are facing financial hardship, it can be charged under Section 177 of the Penal Code (Furnishing false information).

3. Phone/online scams

Singaporeans experienced up to 65.1% more scams in 2020. Should you receive overseas scam calls and counterfeit e-commerce transactions, such scams are usually chargeable under Chapters 415 or 416 of the Penal Code (Cheating, Cheating by personation).

Seeking restitution or legal aid

If you are a victim of cheating, you may make a police report immediately. If you require expert assistance or are under investigation for white-collar crimes and require legal representation, contact our team of lawyers in Singapore for further advice.

For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno, at [email protected].